Cross-border trade halted in Mizoram after Myanmar Army blows up bridge

Aizawl: Thousands of people living in the villages along Mizoram’s border with Myanmar, particularly in Champhai district, are facing severe hardships during the past 10 days as the official border trade between the northeastern state and the neighbouring country stopped following the destruction of a bridge by the neighbouring country’s army on June 8, officials said on Monday.

Officials and the local people said that for various essential items, drinks, bread, other edible items, and electronic gadgets, bordering villagers of Mizoram are dependent on Myanmar.

The border trade was stopped after a vital bridge over the Run River, a crucial link for importing goods from Tahan in Myanmar’s Sagaing division, was destroyed by the Myanmar Army on June 8.

Local media reported that the Myanmar army carried out the destruction of the bridge after the capture of their (Army) camps at Tonzang, Cikha, and Tedim by armed civilian pro-democracy ethnic forces.

Influential NGO, Young Mizo Association (YMA) leader Thankunga Pachuau said that essential goods are arriving in fewer quantities from Tahan via Falam town in Chin state through the alternative route, which is nearly double the distance compared to the original route through Tedim.

The travel distance of the alternative route has caused much delay in the arrival of goods at Mizoram’s border trade point Zokhawthar and in other villages along the Myanmar border.

Pachuau said that given the higher carrying costs, the prices of commodities, including essentials, various drinks, bread, other edibles, and electronic gadgets, have increased to a large extent.

Non-availability or less availability of essentials caused serious problems for the poor people, the YMA leader told the media.

Tahan, a town in the Kalaymyo district in Myanmar, is home to a significant number of the Mizo population.

A large number of Mizos migrated to Tahan from Mizoram, joining the army of the neighbouring country following Burma’s (now Myanmar) independence in 1948, or in search of better opportunities in the adjoining country.

The population in Tahan predominantly speaks the Mizo language and is 99 per cent Christian, contrasting with Myanmar’s overall Buddhist majority of 90 per cent.

Mizoram shares a 510-km unfenced border with Myanmar and through this frontier, legal and illegal trade is taking place regularly.

Various trading organisations have been demanding the development of infrastructure at the Zokhawthar border trade centre to boost legal trade.

IANS

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